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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Free Agency Predictions

With NBA free agency officially kicking off tomorrow, here is a look at where the offseason's top available players might be headed:

Tyson Chandler - New York Knicks

Chandler, perhaps this off-season's most coveted free agent prize, is coming off a big season in which he anchored the Mavericks' defense en route to a Championship. Dallas' $84 million payroll last year -- among other things -- indicates that owner Mark Cuban isn't exactly stingy with his dollars, but the new free agency rules put in place by the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) could make signing Chandler difficult. NBA teams have proven their willingness to fork over millions to any 7-footer with a pulse (see: Diop, DeSagana) so given his standing as a legitimate starting center, Chandler should be fielding some lucrative offers. The most lucrative of the offers so far seems to be the Knicks' 4-year, $58 million proposal, which Chandler is reportedly close to signing. Dallas will not be able to make the same type of offer given their salary constraints, and the team is reportedly hoarding their bills to instead throw at Deron Williams or another member of the heralded 2012 free agent class.

Nenê - New Jersey Nets

Though the Nuggets can offer him top dollar, Nenê supposedly wants out of the Mile High City. According to numerous reports he has already received interest from six other teams, with Indiana, Houston, and New Jersey as the most likely suitors. If inclined, New Jersey and Indiana can both offer max deals worth around $17 million annually. On the heels of a lockout caused primarily by ridiculous contracts for marginal players it may seem odd that teams would be willing to throw so much money at Nenê, who definitely falls in the good-but-not-great category. However, centers come at a premium in this league so he will be paid quite handsomely when it is all said and done. Houston can provide the most compelling roster for Nenê, but it is becoming more likely that they will add Pau Gasol in a three-way trade that would send CP3 to the Lakers. If that is this case, expect Nenê to land with the Nets, as owner Mikhail Prokhorov needs to add incentive for Deron Williams to re-sign next summer.

David West - Indiana Pacers

You might have forgotten amidst all the recent talk about Chris Paul that David West is the team's only major free agent at the moment. But despite that fact, whether or not the Hornets choose to resign West is entirely contingent on the fate of his point guard. The first school of thought is that New Orleans needs to sign West so that Paul will have reason to stick around come next summer. The second is the belief that Paul already has one foot out the door and bringing West back without the team's best player would be a hefty investment that would not yield many wins. As Paul's likelihood of leaving town increases so too does West's. The Pacers have expressed interest and have the cap room to land him.

Marc Gasol - Memphis Grizzlies

Though the younger Gasol spent most of early years doing is best impression of a fat Seattle Sonics' Squatch mascot, last year he emerged as a very productive center on a contending team. As a result, the Grizzlies have publicly stated they will match any offer made on him. Done. Next.

Jason Richardson - Utah Jazz

Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor recently stated the team's intention to sign an athletic shooter this offseason. Richardson isn't the same young lad winning dunk contest after dunk contest anymore, but he still fits the bill quite nicely for the rebuilding Jazz. And if the Jazz's contact offer isn't enough reason to sign in Utah, surely the Twitter plead from our very own Danny Franks to J-Rich will do the trick.

Thaddeus Young - Philadelphia 76ers

Young emerged as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate in 2010-2011 and, put simply, Philadelphia has the funds to make sure he sticks around in Philly.

DeAndre Jordan - Los Angeles Clippers

As a restricted free agent, the Clippers can match any offer Jordan fields. While it will likely take a hefty chunk of change to keep Jordan in town, the Clips (or The Blake Show, if you prefer) would be wise to keep their young core of Gordon, Griffin, and Jordan intact for the foreseeable future.

                                                                                    Jamal Crawford - Orlando Magic

The Gilbert Arenas Experiment in Orlando is over. Consider him and the remainder of his $121 million contract amnestied. To fill his place, the Magic will look for another explosive scorer at the shooting guard position, albeit one for half the price with a less extensive history as a team cancer. Everyone wins. Except for Gilbert Arenas. And the Magic once Dwight Howard inevitably bails. So, in conclusion, no one wins. Except Jamal Crawford.

Caron Butler - Los Angeles Clippers

It's already been settled, Butler will receive $24 million over the next 3 years to refrain from chewing straws throw lobs to Blake Griffin.

Grant Hill - San Antonio Spurs

In attempt to either win one last championship or become the oldest team on this side of my grandpa's retirement home squad, it looks as if the Spurs are eyeing Hill. For a team that doesn't have a particularly well established plan for the post-Duncan era, this move is a short term solution, but one that could pay dividends. The 39-year old veteran had a productive year last year and should be able to at least match Richard Jefferson's numbers from last season, assuming Jefferson will soon be amnestied.

Jeff Green - Boston Celtics

Boston GM Danny Ainge's bold move to trade Kendrick Perkins for youth on the wing in the form of Jeff Green was criticized for most of last year, particularly after the Thunder made a deeper playoff run than the Celtics. But when Ainge made the trade he had the future in mind and I would not expect him to cut his losses on this investment just yet.

Tayshaun Prince - Detroit Pistons

Already agreed to re-sign with the Pistons for $27 million over 4-years. Seems like I should've written this entire post 4-7 days ago. Moving on...

Aaron Afflalo - Denver Nuggets

With seemingly half of their team stuck playing in China at the moment, the Nuggets will have the available resources to keep Afflalo even though contenders like the Bulls would love to acquire him.

Greg Oden - Portland Trailblazers

There's no debate on this one. Oden has accepted a qualifying offer for 1 year at $8.9 million to remain in a Portland uniform. Which is particularly interesting because -- given his injury history/propensity to take nudey pics -- it's rare to see him in any uniform at all.

Samuel Dalembert - Anaheim Sacramento Kings

Dalembert could take less to play for a contender, but the Kings have to do some major spending just to reach the NBA's minimum team salary and that should keep in Sacramento or where ever the Kings are going to being playing for the life of his contract.

Court adjourned.

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